marketing

Tech Thursday: Sharing an Event Online

Every now and then, your business might host an event, or maybe participate in a larger event (i.e. Small Business Saturday). There are (at least) three things you should remember when you’re promoting an event using the internet, and that’s what this Tech Thursday is all about!

First, you should build excitement around the event. Give people some time to mentally prepare, and make it fun, exciting, and appealing to a crowd. The 100 Startup website has some great resources (that we reference in the video) for launching an event.

Second, get the word out on social media! Create a Facebook event, make some sort of graphic to share on Instagram, tweet about it, share with local online calendars, post in LinkedIn- anywhere that it would make sense for your event to be broadcast.

Third, make sure people know what they need to know. Where is the event? What time? Should they show up on time, or can they come and go over the span of a few hours? Is it black tie? Does it cost money? People don’t want to go to an event that makes them feel uncomfortable- so share what you can!

Also, we are going to do a musical number in the next week or so. Would you rather see us a) rap about OGP (Open Graph Protocol) or b) sing an original tune, with instruments, called “That’s Beyond the Scope of the Project”? Let us know!

Movember: Mo Money, Mo ‘Staches

 

 

Fundraising campaigns are everywhere you turn this time of year, and honestly, seeing all that goodwill makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy. One of the fuzzier campaigns being the recently popular Movember, where men spend the month cultivating ‘staches that range from cringeworthy to glorious (Ron Swanson, anyone?), but it doesn’t matter, because it’s for a good cause. I remember when guys were participating in “No Shave November,” which is a bit more flexible in terms of facial hair and grooming (more on the guidelines later), but this was more of a “let’s see how crazy my beard can get” than “let’s grow facial hair for charity” situation. The only thing better than a man with a beard? A man with a beard who cares about charity.

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How did someone come up with this, anyway?

The Movember movement originated in a bar roughly eleven years ago. It started as a friendly mo growing competition (Aussies call mustaches “mo”s, because they have cool names for things) among friends, and was ultimately fueled by a few beers. These facial hair sprouting gents had kind souls, and decided to turn this competition into something that would benefit others. So, they chose some charities which they found relatable, and away they went. The original 30 members paid $10, and it’s been growing ever since(…get it?).
“By encouraging men (who the charity refers to as “Mo Bros”) to get involved, Movember aims to increase early cancer detection, diagnosis and effective treatments, and ultimately reduce the number of preventable deaths. Besides annual check-ups, the Movember Foundation encourages men to be aware of family history of cancer and to adopt a healthier lifestyle.” – The Movember Wiki Page

 So, you just grow a mustache?



Well, not quite. There are rules for partaking in Movember. At the beginning of the month, men start with a clean-shaven face, as rule #1 suggests. My favorite is #5: “Each Mo Bro must conduct himself like a true gentleman…” The rules are straightforward, much like the rest of the Movember marketing plan.
 MoRules

Why is it successful?

Movember isn’t just about who can grow the best mustache (though it’s definitely an incentive). The idea is that participation becomes a conversation starter. It raises awareness/increase funding for programs that aid prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health issues. In the past, men haven’t exactly been encouraged to talk about their feelings or illnesses. There’s been a stigma attached to men expressing a certain sensitivity, which I personally find absurd, but it exists. The Movember project is cool because it encourages men to be open and involved with their health. Going back to its roots, Movember represents a conversation.
It’s also an inclusive conversation: women can participate, too. Even though the foundation raises money for male-related issues, it doesn’t mean that ladies have to be cut out of the conversation. Women can still show their support, regardless of their ability to flaunt a ‘stache. This approach allows the discussion to grow- if the goal is to increase awareness about certain topics, limiting the audience is going to limit growth.
Another way the foundation has spread the conversation is collaborating with some corporate sponsors, such as Adidas, College Humor, Discovery, Toms, Jameson Black Barrel, and The Prevention Institute. They have a free App available for iPhone and Android, sell t-shirts and hats on their store, or offer collaborative items (shoes from Toms, razors from Harry’s) on their online store, too. In other words, they’ve taken the time to make connections and partner with other organizations that have similar target audiences or missions.  This shows that they’re serious about their own mission and are willing to do the legwork to get some big names on board.
The Movember Foundation’s philosophy is simple: do something fun for a good cause. For “Results We Seek,” the foundation has written “Havin’ fun doin’ good.”  Now, there’s a mission I can get behind.

Marketing Monday: Casper Mattress

Casper-Mattress-boxtoscaleYou know what I appreciate? Someone who looks at something that works well enough, then changes the way it’s done.

Like haven’t all of us did the awkward 5 minute (ok 2 minute) mattress test in a furniture store then spent several hundred dollars (or more) on a bed, hoping it was going to work out?

Casper is an interesting company, for many reasons. Let’s look at it from the product, service, and marketing points of view.

Product

A high quality product packaged in such a way that it’s an experience to get.

So these beds come in a box. They warn you to open the box in whatever room your bed will live in. If you go on Youtube and look up ‘Casper mattress’ there are literally hundreds of videos of people opening the box and unpackaging the mattress, you know like this one:

The reviews to back up the claim.

While it is one thing to let people leave reviews, it’s another thing to collect ages, how they sleep, how long they sleep, and who they sleep with as part of the experience.

casperreviews

It makes the reviews left on this site seem more real and believable than they otherwise would be.

Not a ton of offerings.

Do they have 9 different mattresses? Nope, you just pick your size (twin, double, queen, or king). Too many choices is paralyzing and Casper has chosen to carry one good kind of bed and sell it.  They also eliminate a lot of the reasons why people don’t chose to buy online (yes this is one chart but if you look at others, you’ll see they are all pretty similar):

LivePerson-Top-Reasons-Abandoning-Online-Purchase-Jan2013

 

Offering free shipping, clear offerings, a simple but responsively designed website, and one step checkout means customers are less likely to navigate away… plus it helps that they are pretty much the only online mattress game in town.

Service

The trial period is 100 nights.

It’s one thing to try on a pair of jeans and send them back and it’s another thing to take back a PITA item like a bed back. But these guys do it. Pretty cool. (It seems like a courier from the company picks it up and either donates it to charity or recycles it, just FYI.)

They include a hand written note and tools to help you open the bed.

It’s kind of like when you send in your Mac to get repaired and they send you three pieces of precut tape to close your box. Do they need to? Of course not. Is it a classy touch? Sure is.

It looks like getting a Casper bed is a pretty custom experience.

Marketing

They are using email.

No one thinks email marketing is sexy anymore. Trust me, I actually try to sell it to people.



But Casper gets it. The only way you can follow up with someone after they come to your website is via email (social media posts can get lost in the shuffle or even sometimes not even appear for the person who ‘likes’ your page in the case of Facebook). They ever have a fun way of asking.

casperemailmarketing

 

They are still a little corporate though.

Do they have an Instagram account with user generated photos. Do they have a Pinterest board of bedroom decorating ideas? Nope, these guys are sticking to Facebook and Twitter, which is fine. They still seem a bit corporate though (using the same well taken photos regularly). I kind of want them to bust out a little!

So if you are in the market for a Made In The USA bed with good reviews that doesn’t involve an awkward exchange with a salesman, this may be for you. Here’s hoping you like us were inspired by Casper today.

 

Tech Thursday: When Should You Pay for Online Advertising?

One of the cool parts of marketing online is that, for the most part, it’s free. But sometimes, it does pay to pay for some online advertising. What are the options? Why should you spend money to promote your business on Facebook? We have some answers!

This video is all about how to strategically spend your advertising money online, whether it’s by using Pay Per Click advertising on a site like Google, or through targeted ads on social networks. Remember, the key isn’t to spend the least amount of money- it’s to spend your money in a way that will get the most returns to your business.

And, hopefully after watching this edition of Tech Thursday, you too, will make it rain.

Absurdity in Marketing

After a weekend of watching ghastly amounts of television, I was struck by the high percentage of ridiculous commercials I endured. We’ve all seen ridiculous commercials- there’s the kind that has you laughing so hard, you get side stitches, the kind that leaves you bewildered and asking “What was that commercial for, anyway?,” and everything in between. The most absurd commercials seem to come out around the holidays, and of course, the Super Bowl.

I remember when the first Geico gecko commercials came out (the “Stop Calling Me!” phase), and they’re still going strong with hilarious ads. Then there’s the E-Commerce baby, although we haven’t seen him in awhile, and many food related commercials including Snickers and Jack Links beef jerky (the ones with Sasquatch).

Why do companies use humor in advertising? According to this article from The Atlantic, our attention is more likely to be held when we perceive something as either a positive (or negative) experience. Most marketers lean towards the positive experience rather than negative, because they’d rather their audience have a positive association with the brand. Humor not only grabs attention, but holds onto it. That being said, there’s a fine line between hilarious and absurd. It’s a risky marketing strategy, and yet companies still use it.

This is one of my favorite Super Bowl commercials, because it combines my favorite candy with my love for this great song (and quite possibly Meatloaf himself).

Pros

When we think something is funny, we’re also more likely to share it with others. Sharing includes word of mouth, social media shares, e-mails to friends and/or co-workers- anything that gets the word out. Ridiculous content gets shared more organically (meaning people find the content worthy of sharing with others with no incentive or push from the company that put out the ad).

Doing something absurd helps your brand stand out. By sticking your neck out and doing something different, besides the “same old,” safe, guaranteed to work advertising routine, in many ways you’re demonstrating not only innovation but passion. By doing something risky, you send the message “I believe in my product, and am willing to take this chance on it.”

This is my favorite Geico commercial to date. They’re still using the “15 minutes” bit, and adding the ridiculousness of Pinocchio being a motivational speaker. Full disclosure, I find this commercial way funnier than is probably appropriate. Even just writing a brief blurb about is enough to send me into a delirious fit of giggling. That being said, I am not insured by Geico.



Cons

Risk is a larger factor when it comes to absurdity, or humor in general. First, there’s the risk that your ad isolates certain demographics. Some people may not be as receptive to your attempt at humor, so it’s important to consider your target audience, if no one else. Second, there’s always the chance that, hey, you aren’t as funny as you thought, and people don’t respond well (especially if you go the off-color or risque route). Third, if the attempt at humor seems too forced, it isn’t going to be funny.

Another risk is that people who see your funny/absurd/ridiculous ad will be so distracted by the humor, that they pay very little attention to your product. Humor can distract people from the intended purpose of the ad, and then you’re left with a net-zero situation.

If nothing else, avoid creating an ad that is so over-the-top that people don’t understand what you’re marketing. To emphasize this point, I was going to insert a video of an advertisement that was completely strange, and I can’t even tell you the name of the product. There was an aggressive magician wow-ing an inexplicably enthusiastic crowd, and he had some sort of product that (to me) resembled Airborne. I can’t tell you the name of the product. I can’t even tell you if the ad was for the magician guy or for the Airborne-like tablets he was waving around. I even tried Googling this commercial, but clearly was unsuccessful. Moral of the story: this ad was so absurd that it achieved nothing.

Instead, I decided to insert this delightful Starburst commercial. It a) clearly explains what their product is and why it is of value, and b) has a jaunty and ridiculous tune. Success!

This article from Time magazine explains that while funny ads get a lot of laughs and general appreciation, marketers “should use humor as a supplement — not a replacement” for content in any advertisement.

5 Lessons I’ve Learned from Video Editing

During my first month at Breaking Even, I was introduced to video editing in iMovie. Okay, “re-introduced” is probably a better word- I’d dabbled in iMovie  back in 2002, when the state received a grant for public schools to get Macs for 7th graders. So in 7th & 8th grade, we all learned how to do some basic film editing (Ken Burns was basically my hero). There are some significant differences between the type of video editing I do for Breaking Even and the editing I did as a 12 year old, the most notable being that now, I have to edit myself.

VideoCam

Seeing yourself on camera can be unsettling at first. While you’re editing, you have to learn to detach from being hyper-focused on what you look/sound like. Otherwise, you’re going to be super distracted and it’ll take you a week to edit 10 minutes of material, assuming you can even bring yourself to complete the task. Being on camera and learning how to edit video footage were both out of my comfort zone six months ago, but I’ve grown accustomed to it, and have learned a thing  (or five along the way:

1. The camera is your friend. 

At least, that’s what I try to remind myself. There’s something about seeing that little red light flick “On” and suddenly, my mind goes blank. I’ve always had a “deer in the headlights” response to stressful situations. As it turns out, performance anxiety happens to the best of us, no matter how experienced we are with public speaking or performing stand-up in front of a live audience. It happens to amateurs like myself, and there are a ton of recommended ways to cope with it. For me, having a set time for filming helps the anxiety: I know when it’s going to happen, and can mentally brace myself for it. If you have anxiety about public speaking, you aren’t alone, and this article offers 10 tips for handling it.

2. The best material is unscripted.

The first time I showed up on camera for a Tech Thursday video, I had written out my 20-30 second blurb (I think it was about re-sizing photos before uploading them to a website), and basically recited it verbatim for the camera. It wasn’t terrible, but to be honest, when I was editing later, I actually got bored. It was like watching a drone. Eventually, over the course of filming, the script became unnecessary, and Nicole and I more or less learned how to get in the zone with ad-libbing. Not only did this make the actual filming process fun, it was more fun to edit (and hopefully, watch).

Scripts are fine, and in some cases, necessary. Then again, there are times when something unplanned happens, you roll with it, and hey, it’s even better than the original! (This totally happens in Hollywood. And life in general). You can also just go in with a general plan of attack, and see what happens. Which reminds me of a joke told to me by a wise 4 year old: How do ducks learn to fly? They wing it!

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 3.16.23 PM

3. We’re our own worst critics. 

After you overcome the anxiety of performance anxiety and learning what to say, you have to watch yourself saying it. Multiple times.

The first time I watched a video of myself, I thought Wait, why is my face shaped so weird? Does my voice really sound like that? Is that a lisp? I had no idea my skin tone was so uneven…My hair is stupid. And so on.

But guess what? Fixating on the way I perceived myself on film wasn’t getting the video edited. It only wasted time. More than I’d care to admit. And hey, that’s kind of saying something about life in general, right? Instead of being disappointed that one of my eyebrows is higher up than the other, my energy would have been better spent editing the quality of the video itself.

4. Show, Don’t Tell (Round 29,823,409)

Yeah, yeah, we’ve discussed this idea hundreds of times, but hear me out (again): often, if it seems like there’s part of the video where we’re just talking or explaining something, I’ll usually insert a relevant screenshot that highlights or complements what we’re discussing. If we’re talking about a specific website, boom, in goes a screenshot of that website. If we’re explaining the process of researching a hashtag, we might usescreenshots that show each step, so that viewers can see it rather than just watch us talk at them about it. Every now and then, a funny (yet not completely random) image works wonders. It breaks up the visual content of the video, and the people watching are better able to understand the tutorials we’re giving.

5. There’s always room for improvement.

After I’ve put a video out into the universe (aka YouTube), I sometimes think, “Wait, I’ve made a huge mistake. I should have done X, Y, and Z oh no what was I thinking?!” But, as Nicole has said to me several times, if we wait until something is ABSOLUTELY perfect before we share it with others, nothing would ever get done. And that’s really not great for a business. As long as you put the effort in and gave it your best shot, you can’t keep obsessing about what you might have done differently. Hindsight is 20/20, and all that jazz.

Along those lines, there’s more than one right way to edit a video. For instance, I might make the executive decision to cut out 30 seconds of footage, while Nicole might’ve chosen to keep that 30 seconds and cut out 15 seconds in one place and another 15 somewhere else. That doesn’t mean either of us are wrong, it’s just artistic differences.

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